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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... the science of Garbology.


CURWOOD: At the University of Arizona in Tucson, they're celebrating the chore of taking the garbage in. For 25 years, archaeologists with The Garbage Project have been analyzing the contents of trash, and their digging and sorting efforts have unearthed some surprises. They found 25-year-old newspapers, and other items that one might expect to rot, showing that land fills tend to mummify, and not compost our garbage. They've also found that Americans waste 10% to 15% of the food we buy. And, landfills are mostly filled with mostly recyclable materials, like paper, and construction debris. Garbologists also say that if you add up all the toxic products that households in a typical community send to the dump, it often equals the amount of hazardous waste produced by the same area's commercial sector. While residues from auto care, lawn, garden, and cleaning products are the major culprits, cosmetics also contribute to the toxic stew. Excavations reveal that Tucson residents alone, throw away 350,000 bottles of nail polish. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth almanac.



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